Many of us entrepreneurs have a similar story:
We were in a job we weren’t passionate and stuck with a manager who was less-than-supportive. So rather than living out the rest of our lives looking forward to weekends and dreading the weeks, we said “f*** this” and started our own thing.
This is exactly what led Heatherlyn Nelson, the founder and CEO of Inglenook Marketplace, to start her ultra-hygge online boutique.
I wanted my company to represent who I was; a shameless homebody that loves to be surrounded by things that bring me happiness and comfort, just like an Inglenook does, all while helping the planet in some way.Heatherlyn Nelson
When she started Inglenook, she wanted to create a place where people could purchase comforting and timeless home decor and accessories to bring warmth to their homes.
With a clear vision and little-to-no business or marketing experience, Nelson’s journey to building a beautiful and comforting brand was full of learning experiences, pivots, and a touch of that dreaded imposter syndrome.
So, without further ado…
Read her inspiring journey in the full interview below:
Ashley Hoffman (AH): What is Inglenook Marketplace?
Heatherlyn Nelson (HN): Inglenook Marketplace is an affordable home decor and lifestyle brand. We are passionate about the products we carry, about the brands we represent, and about what home means for you.
We understand that most homes and home decor are made from tree materials, which you never really think about when shopping. So, in order to stand by our commitment to improving not just the way your home feels, but the environment as well, we’ve partnered with One Tree Planted. For every purchase you make from us, we plant a tree. It’s that simple!
AH: What led up to you launching this business? Where did the idea come from?
HN: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial & rebellious spirit – wanting to work on things that were important to me, but on my terms.
As the Head of Operations for several different businesses, I saw so much of my blood, sweat, and tears go into creating beautiful and successful brands, yet always lacking the feeling of real accomplishment. At the end of the day, the business I was helping grow wasn’t mine.
One afternoon, after spending hours in Jury Duty, I was heading back into work when my then-boss called me and demanded to know when I was coming back in.
We were working on a tight design deadline and he hated that I wasn’t available to him. He was frustrated that my jury duty “took so long” (something that I obviously can’t control) and wanted me to get back in the office immediately.
It was at that moment, after 14 years of other people controlling my time, and controlling my professional growth, that I decided I was taking back control of my future and becoming my own boss.
About a month before incorporating my business, I was reading an article where it talked about the most beautiful words in the English language. One of the top 100 words was Inglenook.
Having been in the design field, I knew what it was; a warm hearth in the center of the home where friends and family gather. That’s when I decided that my brand was going to be called Inglenook Marketplace and that it was going to carry home decor and accessories that bring comfort and timelessness to every home.
I loved working with design firms but could hardly afford any of the items that we used when designing spaces. I realized that if I really wanted to, I could start my own company where I could control the products that I carried, the price points that I sold them at, and the look and feel of the brand.
I wanted my company to represent who I was; a shameless homebody that loves to be surrounded by things that bring me happiness and comfort, just like an Inglenook does, all while helping the planet in some way.
AH: What has it been like building the business from the ground up? Have you made any pivots since you started out?
HN: It’s both rewarding and challenging but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I started my company knowing nothing about how to incorporate a business, how and when to file retail sales tax, how to build an e-commerce website or even how to find products to carry.
I was in over my head when I first started out, but, little by little I taught myself the basics. I took marketing classes, tax classes, Googled EVERYTHING, got involved in small business advice groups, and sought out fellow business owner friends for advice.
The major pivot I made early on was removing furniture from the website. The cost of freight shipping furniture pieces was almost higher than the piece of furniture customers were buying.
Now that we don’t carry furniture on the website, I feel that we can offer customers an authentic shopping experience without the sticker shock. Once our brink & mortar opens, we have plans to revisit selling furniture there.
AH: How do you find and source the products for your site?
HN: I love attending New York tradeshows and visiting local artisan markets in Upstate NY.
I’m passionate about supporting female-owned businesses and female artisans, so you’ll find that most of the brands we carry are female-led brands.
AH: What’s your ultimate vision for Inglenook?
HN: Ideally, we would have our warehouse, design studio and brick & mortar all on the same property in upstate New York.
I want to design and manufacture most of our pieces in-house, hire local artisans to help keep our brand authentic and help bring jobs to our community.
I want Inglenook Marketplace to be a beautiful place to shop and a happy and peaceful place to work.
AH: What has been one of your biggest learning points so far?
HN: That I’m not good at everything. While I think I can do everything myself, or learn how to do everything myself, my best attribute is knowing when to ask for help.
While I know that I can figure things out on my own, 9 times out of 10, someone whose expertise is in accounting, or social media, can do it much better than I can. Letting go of my Legos is the best business lesson I’ve learned so far.
AH: What’s your #1 piece of advice for fellow female entrepreneurs?
HN: Know and believe in your worth. If you don’t know or trust what you bring to the table, then how are your customers, your vendors, your business partners supposed to believe in you?
Imposter syndrome is so real, I know! But in order for you to get to that next level in your business, you have to suck it up and figure it out. No one is going to do the work for you or believe in your vision as much as you do.